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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  January 27, 2013 12:00pm-1:00pm EST

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his latest, "martin's dream: my journey and legacy and martin luther king, jr.." and it he recounts his journey from teenage civil rights act to this present at the 1963 march on washington to editor of the attacking juniors papers. he includes encounters many leaders and organizers in the civil rights movement including ella baker, stokely carmichael and the king family. it's about an hour. >> thanks for joining man out her words. >> your boat, "martin's dream" is then no more an history book. in the book you talk about your personal journey and your very candid about your life. you also cover new insight as an historian to the life and legacy of dr. mart luther king junior.
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what prompted you to read the book this way? >> i wanted to write some thing to mark its 50th anniversary in business 50 years of my life, of king's legacy and his life coincided with my coming of age. so part of it was to do those two tasks. i felt i had connect it to the king legacy and yet i felt there was something about my life that needed to be told in order to understand how king impacted me and how i got involved in this amazing journey of editing king's papers. >> well, it's an excellent read. you and i are at the same generation i too am coming of age in the six days in the book i must say was bittersweet army because i knew dr. king. he was my mentor.
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i knew him to last years of his life. and bitter because the way he was taken from us because of racial hatred in this country. i guess we start at the beginning because the beginning of your book here on the mall with dr. king and near the end of your book, 50 years later with his monument, which you help to design. >> and in between, coming back so many times. so this seems like even though i only lived in washington a short time, the mall seem to be a place that had symbolic meaning for my life. >> and sentimental. >> i have all these memories. >> is a beautiful city. >> you were 19 years old in 1863. the march on washing 10 were dr. king gave that iconic dress. how did you happen to go there? >> part of it as i grew up in a
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small town but there wasn't any but people. i think there were three black senators consider it always been fascinated by what was the black community like. i didn't have much exposure to it except my relatives in detroit. so i think i learned about the black community. a tick of a newspaper under his martin luther king. there were the students in the sedans. they became a role models. so by 1963 on the college. i get to go to the student meeting in indiana -- indianapolis.
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>> bloomington actually and i meet stokely carmichael. he's the first i talk to and i remember i told him up on it to go, he just kind of dismiss that. >> was the attractor of dr. king or his methods? >> he didn't say that in terms of mart luther king. i think it was just for me he thought i should be in albany, georgia, cambridge, maryland. so he would be going to places further south to this is set up one day march just was not what he had in mind and i think he was trying to recruit me to the movement. but for me going to one day march would be the most exciting a medical thing i've been in my life at that point. >> let's go back to the march.
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to be there when he gives that address, what did you think of the speech? did you think would be a comment click gettysburg address or fdr stated anthony? >> guest: no, not at that point. for those of us who revere was the the final speech, so i was very pleased to meet art mr. king in person. i was looking forward to what he would say, but his speech was very short. it wasn't one of his long-winded where he spoke for an hour or so. it is 15, 16 minutes. it is planned to be about seven or eight minutes. that's what the speech was to
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be. >> host: did he have the i have a -- tell that story. >> guest: when he got to the end of his remarks, he thought this location requires something more. he laid out an agenda. now i look at his advanced text and go back to all these places in the protest. the equation requires something more. he'd been talking about the extreme heat had. he thought about it for years. the american dream and then it becomes his dream. he had been a district just a few months before a top that i have a dream that america will someday realize these principles
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in the declaration of independence. so i think he was just inspired by that moment. >> host: in our group there is talk of jackson who is better, egging him on come the same tell them about your dream. >> guest: i'd listen to lots of recording for that speech, never quite heard that. maybe she kind of stage whispered to him. i want to believe that story. >> host: she loves him. the reasoning that dr. king was because i was staying at her home when i was working for ebony magazine. dr. king would come by there. i met him the day after he was hit in the headache each part. you talk in the book about his being hit in the head in cicero, illinois. did you meet him? >> guest: i only saw him from a distance. i tried to get as close as i
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could come so i got to the foot of the lincoln memorial. but the notion of an 18-year-old that i would even shake hands with him would've been the thrill of my life. i only saw him speak twice and both times i saw him from the crowd. he came to ucla when i was a student aaron spoke been set up as the other time. maybe in 1865, something like that. >> host: how did that impact you on the way home? >> guest: i didn't have a ride back. i didn't tell my parents i was coming and i had a ticket that only went back to indianapolis. so then i just have to hitchhike. i hitchhike across the country. >> host: were you scared? >> guest: as an 18-year-old
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you think you can do anything. >> host: how did hearing dr. king's speech that date contact view on how stokely was trying to influence you? did you talk to him -- >> guest: not afterwards. there's probably three years before he talked with him again. in 1963 he was not involved in public figure. 1866, he's black power, so that's the next time we got back in touch with each other again. from that point on i stayed in touch with him the rest of his life. >> host: we want to talk about him some more. stokely carmichael was one of my heroes as well as mathematics. i was more in agreement with the leader malcolm max in stokely carmichael and i was with dr. king despite knowing him. as i've gotten older i
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appreciate that are king's tactics. he's the one with the monument on the mall. but during that time, you had misgivings about "time" magazine naming dr. king man of the year. >> guest: no, not at all. i was from a distance very proud of mart with the king, but i kind of absorbed resentment of him. the people and i kind of felt this way. martin luther king is following us. were not following him. were out there trying to break new ground. for me it is moving to los angeles in getting involved in the movement there and a group called nonviolent action committee, which was a group at the local level, employment issues and urban issues. this is a year before king comes
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to chicago. so from our live, king is following us and catching up on the same the vietnam war. we were very insulting opposing the war from an early stage and king was much more cautious because he had much more to lose. >> host: he lost a lot been against the vietnam war. guess the one of the things i discovered is that much easier for a 20 or 21-year-old student to take a stand on it. you don't have anything to lose except your draft status, which i did lose. king understood everything hit home with some soleri sit in his access to the white house and congress. all that was contingent on not taking a stand on vietnam. >> host: president johnson was very upset at dr. king at the
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stampede to. what habits have rights and voting rights over and i are going to go against it then up for reelection. going to go against them the vietnam war. >> guest: now i understand what courage it took to take the stand he did may understand more why she hesitated. greta was very evolved from an earlier stage, but she was not the public figure, so he could send her to essentially speaker had. host scott again, proved that you can write. >> guest: i think so. i think he's a visionary. i think he understood the connection between the anti-colonial movements going on around the world and understood how the cold war have prevented
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us from seeing that we are on the wrong side, that because the communist movement identified itself as anti-colonial to some kind of many of these nationalists wanted to have the union. suicide turns. were opposed to it. >> host: you that the country during the vietnam area. why? >> guest: for me looking back, it wasn't that difficult a choice because i knew i was going to go into the military. o-oscar how did you know? which he drafted? >> guest: i was stressed it several times. i peeled it and try to be a conscientious your bed that was turned down. so it's really coming down to iowa to go to prison for three
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years? for the world. so i wreck it asked if i left it might not be able to ever come back. and i was a big decision. >> host: when i was reading about, i thought that is a decision between your life and living a life outside of your country. >> guest: that's right. that's what i had to really think through. he was in office or in the army reserves and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. so for him, the military had offered opportunity. he had been hired in the depression and gets drafted and because the military needed black officers come as a drafted he's able to go to officer training school and has opportunities to military, but never civilian life.
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>> host: it would have been the same for you. >> guest: i thought about that actually. i was a nominee to the air force academy at west point, so i could have easily seen how my life would've gone in a very different direction. >> host: could we have done which her brother michael and my brother james did camus joined the navy to avert the draft. did you think about that? >> guest: i thought about that, but by that time is very politicized and i would've felt guilty i was taking the easy way out. i think i knew i could have gone into the military and i wouldn't have been sent to the front lines. i might've been sent on to been to vietnam. but by that time it was for the symbolism of it. i knew i did not support that
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word. >> guest: a lot of young people our age had difficulty reconciling or not have it all device that whites had in serving this country, taking risk in our life. mohammed ali. >> guest: if i was going to fight for democracy, i would've done it in mississippi and alabama. i didn't have to get 10,000 miles to fight for democracy. >> host: did you ever think about going there? >> guest: i came very close in the run-up to the project of 1964. i went to new orleans. i met with chavez is another people there. i thought very seriously. probably if it hadn't been for the financing of that, but they wanted to bring their own money to bury themselves out and i needed to work my way through
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school. an easy job to finish college. >> host: you mentioned it. then there was dr. king's organization sclc. what were their respective missions? was the overall mission of the move? was it to get equality? got a nice, civil rights, what else do they want? >> guest: both of them that in turn by the freedom's journal. sometimes the ice lead ourselves when we use the term civil rights movement. in 1965 the civil rights agenda had been achieved. the civil rights act of 1964 from the voting rights act of 1965. so rather than the gold. martin luther king would've said that going to retire and go to a college in the campus minister.
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i've achieved my goal. none of the people i knew because although this article is/are radical in some way from that. economic change, and power in the black community was kind of the root of the black power movement and black power for black people. using the right-sided again to actually bring about concrete changes. for many of us we saw 19655 is the beginning, nokia. now we have basic human rights. now the question becomes what are you going to do without? the black community by that time is 100 years behind. it has restrictions had discrimination. he can't face the year going to
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catch up. there has to be movement in that this martin luther king said, where do we go from here? that's where we still are. we still haven't faced the question of what we do with the rights we gained? whenever citizens, what we do citizenship? >> host: dr. king talked about lifting from the quicksand of racial injustice to the hard rock of brotherhood. on that spectrum, where are we? we have a black man in the white house. michelle alexander who endorsed her but amid the author of the wonderful book, the new jim crow, the statistics she writes about the work that people have right now in the 21st century were underemployed, unemployed, barfoot did with aids and other diseases of obesity and diabetes. tucker said this for the same kinds, yet we have a president.
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and i'm thinking the black community for me is deafening for my generation. with protest everything. and we wanted more after we got the voting rights and civil rights, we wanted more than 65. why do you black community -- >> you can see the difference between the support team got when he was fighting first of the race before. so if you're in 1865, the level of support if you look at the polls, overwhelming support, widespread support even among whites for that he was trained to do. if you look at after 65, when he missed to chicagoan takes takes a stand on vietnam, when he begins to support garbage workers and poor people, the poor people's campaign which was the first occupied this man. he wanted to bring people to occupy the national mall.
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even during the occupy campaign in recent years, no one prefers something so radical is coming and staying on the national mall. so that's the king was about in his support of the black community ran down dramatically. >> host: wide? are they afraid it would make white people angry? guessed that there is an element of support for black people who are doing well, but still faced jim crow. so for them, once you remove these jim crow barriers, their agenda is gone. in fact, at that point, they are overqualified. opportunities are going to open up because now they are no longer facing explicitly racial barriers. jobs are opening up.
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so for them, they don't need another movement. for the black poor, their movement is just beginning. getting there though, getting the right to go into a restaurant, going to a hotel. if you are poor, what have you gained? >> guest: >> host: but a large amount of us are still poor and there's the silence. >> guest: one thing that happened before that is people who came out of the middle class saw their responsibility to go and help them mobilize those who are poor and destitute. that was the college students, the sons and grandsons ingrained outers of the black peasants, people like myself.
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my mother grew up in rural florida and segregated schools, the whole works. >> host: who is your father? >> guest: a rich life alabama, was part of the black migration of it to detroit in world war i. at least it's fabulous. >> host: our parents generation chose to show their act this and against racism by moving, migrated north. >> guest: that historically for most people who come from the peasant background, the route to freedom was not by staging a political movement. it is moving cagey move towards a freer and iron it every city. even from the south to the north and that's what most people do. in the process of doing that, some of them became politicized.
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>> host: the expected thanks to the be markedly different in the north. >> guest: right, but at least in the north, they're not into the murder murdered for taking a stand. some of the relatively freer environment, they're able to create conditions for the modern is that. >> host: talk about some of the people of the movement. who were the people who most of those things? was a king, mathematics, and death of avarice, stokely carmichael? >> guest: all of them had different roles in the movement pier one at the ways in which i tried to explain to students is rosa parks made the cooking possible. martin luther king didn't make rosa parks possible. if she had done what she did for refusing to give up her seat on
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that last, martin luther king would've simply been an articulate, well meaning baptist minister. it's because of rosa parks that were talking about him today. she opened up the possibility for him to display those qualities that he had been to rise to the occasion. >> host: she also said russia was sitting on the best refusing to give up her seat, she was thinking about emmett till, the 14th of black way from chicago who went to mississippi in 1855 and because he was a better way women, was brutally murdered. to think his death changed or start anything in the civil rights movement? >> guest: a lot of things to. it is his death, the brown v. board of education decision. it was the killing of civil rights for yours.
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it is people like robert johns, the young high school student who got a walkout on the segregated school because of protesting against the inferior education in 1851. many people we don't even know their names anymore before rosa parks, two other teenagers did the same thing. so this resistant, virtually among young people. >> guest: when we talk about south africa, it was the students in soweto. we all remember nelson mandela, that nelson and all of a sudden he presents no. it is those students who revived, stephen biko another survived a movement in the early 70s family 60s.
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>> host: is james bevel, talking about children, young people leading the way to contain that got a lot of criticism for him and dr. king. tell that story. >> guest: again come a king was at a crucial point in birmingham. we had this image that king david direction we should march millions of people across the country. that's completely wrong. from a camera, which king didn't initiate, through birmingham, king is a leader in search of a following. that only in birmingham can he initiate and sustain a movement. but that reached a crucial point in april 1963. other people who are adults, went to get arrested at our deep and arrested, including king
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himself. that said he rates his letter from the right-hand jail. he's at the crucial point where it was not clear that he was going to win in birmingham. when you think about it, if he had lost, they would then no march on washington. they would then no nobel peace prize. so what saved the day in birmingham was there's no adults to be arrested, but james bevel is saying is these young people were just eager to be arrested. they are eager to join them but then restraining them. we've been saying you're too young, you can't get involved. at that point they come into the picture and really saved the day for martin luther king. >> host: are there any iconic pictures that spring to mind? >> guest: of course, the young people and the dog and the
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hostess. but the story that told me about this being in high school and because the teachers and principals knew they had to keep students under control. by that time, it's defense resentments were boiling over. this one school, they lock the gates. >> host: to keep the children and? >> guest: to keep them in. >> host: how old are they? >> guest: high school age. at a certain point, the students laughed and pushed the fence down. >> host: they see a child will the way. just so they could not be restrained at that point and that changed the momentum of the birmingham campaign and that became the basis of kennedy
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introducing the civil rights act and the march on washington in some ways an extension of what was going on in places like birmingham. >> host: wesson after the march, dr. carson committed the bombing bombing of the church of the four young white girls killed in birmingham, alabama? >> guest: yeah, that was a reminder that the sense of triumph king had after the march on washington, just a few weeks later is going back to birmingham and conducting a funeral. >> host: do you think he felt guilty? >> guest: he felt guilty about all these kids been in jail. he tried to explain and iraq are listening to one of his speeches and he said, these children are
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doing -- they know they need to do this for future generations. some of their parents reckitt as. i am parents didn't want me involved. >> host: of course not. >> guest: they took me to new mexico so i wouldn't have to be involved. ..
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we've had situations where assault weapons are used on a weekly basis, monthly basis come in the urban areas, and the victims are gods children. >> host: 500 people in 2012 were murdered, black people were murdered on the southside of chicago. and it seems to matter more that they are killing each other than that their children who are dead. and it doesn't seem to be the uproar in the country. even in our community, about it. >> guest: but that's what are as a nation, to think that, i think most americans, black and white, and all races, understand that we are not the equal nation that -- >> host: we say we are. >> guest: but there is still a
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reluctance to address that issue and understand that part of it comes from, if you put, say, one of the problems with school education, if white children are in in dash that are in inferior schools, then -- >> host: there's action. >> guest: there's action. and i think that's one of the things about desegregation is that many black parents understand. if they're in school with white kids, they have leverage. one of the problems with the way in which we went about desegregation is that i agree that they should have had, that black kids should've been allowed to go to central high school. but that was nine -- the little rock nine. what about the 900 or still in the all black school?
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what is being done to make sure that their education the sql? that would've cost a lot of money, with cause a lot of resources, and that's, that's what a nation failed during that time. yes, we need to break down racial barriers and make it impossible to have an all white school. but that still doesn't do with the problem of what happened to the predominantly black school. >> host: during -- i was living in boston in the early '70s, some call forced boarding. boarding. i call the court ordered busing. we did want our children, our black children to go to school with white kids because we wanted to integrate. as you said we wanted to go to to those goals because the schools are better. the books are better. the opportunities are better. it takes me back to my other question of where are we on the quicksand of racial injustice and the hard rock?
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what are we in this country, not just black people, but white people. where are we? army summer in the middle? we have a black president. are we almost there? where are we? >> guest: i think that we need to do two things. one of them is to celebrate the victory. in the generation of people who bring in and to the jim crow system, the legalized segregation and discrimination that existed, the generation that ended colonialism. when i tell my students about colonialism, the catholic and their history books to kind of find out, there's a few colonies left, but about apartheid, and they have to -- what was that about? that kind of legalized discrimination, racism. so the victory over white supremacy as a legalized system of oppression, that was a tremendous victory.
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and the heroic figures, that's why, it was during that time that the majority of humanity, their status changed. how many times -- that's never happened in history where the majority of people in a relatively short period of time went from being present to citizens. -- peasant to citizens. >> host: but 300 years or more of slate and the need to the slaves away. about 150 years of apartheid in america of jim crow, and we were told to wait. and then many black people were told to wait four more years for president obama's second term for him to act. and women brought the issues to the present. days have brought their issues. we want comprehensive immigration reform. other governments are bring their issues to our president. we are not bringing our issues. martin took his issue to --
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>> guest: who is stopping them? it's one thing to say, president obama is not responding. >> host: but what are we doing? >> guest: what are we doing to put the issue so that he has to respond? and to me, if you're not using that leverage, everyone knows that the black vote, latino vote, that it was decisive in the last election, women. each of these groups who played a role in electing him, that's why, in my view, when i came there for the inauguration, i said, and the day before the inauguration i did a speech to the morehouse alums who came, and i said the important date is not tomorrow. we celebrate that is the
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important date is the day after tomorrow. what are we going to do them? and for a lot of people -- >> host: celebrate it. >> guest: for the next four years. >> host: it is a milestone i never thought in my lifetime i was a black president. we talked a great deal about -- very little about you but i think we're getting to know you here in your comments. you ended dr. king's paper. there are several papers there. papers at boston university we would fiscal but there are other papers. how are the papers that you edited different? what did you find? >> guest: the papers i am taking, the papers of boston, the papers at atlanta, the papers of some at different places, hundreds of archives around the world. i've gone, i found papers in india. so you bring them all together and you decide how to publish them, make them available to people. that's been my job for the last
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25 years. >> host: you've lived in this town. you're a history. you're african-american. can see your interest. what really brought you to want to do this? carranza, ma his wife, ask you, his widow, asked you what was your motivation for wanting to do it? i think i didn't want to not do it. i think it was more -- i had a lot of doubts when she called and asked because i didn't have the wanted to devote -- >> host: how did she ask? >> guest: she asked wha whetheri would be interested in actually when we first talked on the phone call i said on to other people done more work? my work and then really the grassroots of the struggle not so much on his role. i never had really been very much about him apart from the movement. but then she came out and i
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remembered my wife's and, to want to spend the rest of your cursing you could an editor of martin luther king's papers and you turned it down? and i think she was a little bit wiser than i was at that point, of recognizing that you don't get asked by the widow of a person you have admired all of your life. >> host: how did she hear about you? >> guest: bobby hill, the historian at ucla. a number of people who were neutral acquaintances. she was looking around for someone to take on this role, and they said there's this out, at that time, young scholar out of stanford, and he would be good. he's written about the movement. he was at the march. and so that's what led to the te focal. >> host: jihad of love letters from dr. king, and some of these letters she had under her bed in her house. >> guest: yes, i heard these rumors after i became coming, i
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could go all over the world. as i said, to india, ghana and all these places to try to get material. and people were telling me that you know, she has some papers under her bed, or in our house. and so part of what i tell in this, this gradual process by which again access to those materials. >> host: how did you do at? because if she hadn't -- >> guest: and it took time. >> host: and they are valuable. she had them in her home a. >> guest: that was part of it, is that when dexter king decided that he was going -- >> host: now, he is the younger son of dr. king lacks. >> guest: he is the older -- the younger son, yes, yes, i'm sorry. >> host: two sons and two daughters. >> guest: that's right. he was the younger son who decided he wanted to bring them
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all together and put them up for auction. and so at that point the question became well, you know, what's going to happen with all the papers in the home? and that's when i began to go through all those materials. and i found that they were extremely rich. i mean, they opened up a whole new dimension about martin luther king because they had to do with his life as a minister. you could go through that and you can find out what he was thinking about as he is putting together these ceremonies, what is he reading, his library was there. i would go into the basement and goes to all of these materials and i would find hand written notes. >> host: did he write in longhand? >> guest: many times in longhand. for example, i have this yellow pad in which he wrote out his draft of his acceptance speech for the nobel peace prize. and when i first saw that, it
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was like my heart stopped. because i just, you know, first of all, you had the sense of the last person to touch this was martin luther king. >> host: how did you see him and told? you talk in the book, in trenton, about him being more of a profit and a protester. >> guest: one of the things that set him apart is that of the people in the movement to mobilize people and go to meetings and organize campaigns and stuff like that. he was not really the best at that. i think one example would be the montgomery bus boycott. the women organize the boycott. the boycott was almost 100% successful before he became the leader. but what he did it is after that
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first day of the successful boycott and they had a mass rally, he was the one who said the history books are the future. they will say there lived a great people and have the courage. he was the one who gave that, to recognize the historical importance of what they have been. i'm sure they're looking at it and saying, well, now we have a one day we got to not bring about -- one day boycott, but better treatment of segregation. so he is saying no. this is the movement that years later people will be writing about. and he's right. and in every american history book now you will see the boycott. >> host: and that young man on the ball when you're 19 and you had your feelings stirring and you heard him, and there you are, a historian some years
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later and you're touching what he touched and you're reading it, what he wrote in rough draft, what was the picture of him then and how did it change for you when you read those letters? >> guest: there's a chapter in the book about where i'm compiling his autobiography. because at that point, i am taking all of his autobiographical material and putting it together in a narrative. the type of narrative that he would have written if he had a time. and when i get to the march and i'm recognizing that now i can see that person who i saw from a distance. looking at me through his eyes, which he's describing people like myself are coming to the march from all different directions and all forms of transportation, and these people who are becoming active in this great struggle. so i'm seeing my 19 year old
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self through the eyes of the person i saw up there. >> host: what a privilege guess but i would have never -- if you could imagine being a 19 year old kid at that, a black kid at that point. even imagining that 12 years later i would be professor of history at stanford university. in 1963 that would've been inconceivable. that 12 years later, or two decades later i would be getting this call from coretta scott king, or that three decades later i would be designing the king memorial. >> host: how did you get involved? people get to that i want to hold back because there's another question about the papers in the sermon. there were some charges against dr. king. you found some unwanted discoveries. i hate to talk about it but in full disclosure we have to talk about all issues.
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>> guest: one of the things that i think is really necessary is not put him on a pedestal. martin luther king was a flawed individual, and i found this out when i was going through his academic papers, and finding plagiarism. >> host: how old was he when he was elected? how old was he when he was doing this? >> guest: he was in college. these are academic papers. it wasn't like he was handing in a paper that he copied from somebody else. it was the way i would look at it was he was taking passages, and sometimes citing an actually, sometimes not attributing. >> host: wing preachers reached they preach from the bible. >> guest: but they don't have it into a college professor. that's the district is very specific roles what you can and
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can't do. and one of them is everything that you get from another source you attribute to that source. >> host: i want to talk about your pledge. we need more time because it's a wonderful book. your play, you want to do more with dr. king's legacy than just write a book, or to papers to give written a play, passages of martin luther king. tell about the plea. you took the play to china. you took the play to palestine. both amazing places to take a point about dr. king, was a protester against governor. talk about that very briefly. >> guest: i have always been trying to find other ways, doing documentaries about the movement and martin luther king. i worked on eyes on the prize. so the plate was just, i was a colleague of a playwright, and she suggested that, one of the things she said was look, i have
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to create my document by integrating these people. you've spent your life bringing together all these sources. why don't you take this material and transform it into a play? >> host: praided ya. she's brilliant. i was a great idea. >> guest: i thought it was a great idea, too. i did know how much work i was getting involved in and how difficult it would be. but i did it and the play was produced at stanford and i worked with very close with a person in the drama department and the drama department put it on the program. and we did it, and since then i've kind of been tinkering with the. it's been kind of like a hobby. >> host: but it is a hard work hobby. if some of it in the book. and taking it to china and taking it to palestine, how did you, one can write a play? you are a historian professor. write a play, go through all you have to go through, and what was
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the reception in those areas? tricky one of my former students was there so that was -- i had visited her and she was fluent in chinese. she was there for a long period of time. she had seen danny glover perform, i had written a script and he read from the script. she said look, you come why can we do this in china? it will have a great impact. so she convinced the national theatre of china to do it. so i had the leading theater company in china at my disposal. this was 2007. we performed it in a theater less than two miles from tiananmen square. >> host: and chinese? >> guest: in chinese. we were performing the birmingham protests for a
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chinese marbler the kings leading protesters, at all of this is taking place before a packed audience, within walking distance of tiananmen square. and sort of translating king's legacy and bringing a gospel choir, you know, because -- >> host: like a greek chorus? >> guest: yes. three of my students were part of that choir, and i called them up and said how would you like to go to china and work with the national theatre of china? and so they had the opportunity to work with the greatest theater company as well as people from other parts of the united states. this was the first time african-american performers have performed on the same stage in a play in china. >> host: so you, a historian, makes history. >> guest: it was historic. and then once i did in china,
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while, where else? where else? i've taken an interest. i gone to the palestinian territories back in the '90s, because the role of nonviolence their, they need to bring nonviolence into this dispute between the israelis and the palestinians. and i thought why not bring it there? and again, this was the palestinian national theatre taking on display. they targeted at different communities. not just played it in jerusalem. east jerusalem. all these different -- >> host: what was their reaction put your bringing again protesters, a story of martin luther king. >> guest: i asked permission. >> host: did you have to have a? >> guest: not really. i think we had a little trouble getting in, but once we got into
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israel, coming to israel and into jerusalem, and i'm sure they could have shut it down if they had wanted to. >> host: in this corner of the world, it's always in some conflict and the word terrorism is always mentioned. here, you found that they had interest in nonviolence. >> guest: yes. including one of the students who had worked with me, had taken my class and i had taken him to india, a student from ramallah. so i had a palestinian student i had taken, him to india to study gandhi. and he comes back to his hometown in ramallah and he is now one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement on the west bank. >> host: there so much -- [inaudible] and how did it turn
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out? >> guest: well, he got arrested. that's what happens. it was a way of challenging the discrimination against palestinians and a nonviolent way. >> host: we didn't get to your being on the mall again when the monument was dedicated. you helped designed to did you have anything to do with the drum major complex? >> guest: i tell the full story of the, all the good and the bad, you know, you see part of your vision set in stone, and you see the things that are set in stone that were not a part of your vision. >> host: how did you feel when you saw? standing, looking, having a point of view of thomas jefferson. what did you feel? >> guest: welcome one of the things we want them looking directly at thomas jefferson. and if you'll notice, the memorial was built of his can of looking towards reagan airport.
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>> host: when you talk about the conversation would've had, what do you think dr. king would say to thomas jefferson if they had a conversation? >> guest: exactly what he did say. he wrote these wonderful words, let's live up to them. we need as a nation to live up -- we justified our independence on the basis of this declaration that says that all people are created equal, and they are endowed with rights. so now we have this obligation as a nation that we justified our independence on that we have to live up to its. >> host: his last book is entitled where to go from your book and your book "martin's dream" is a wonderful dream. i thank you for this book. if you look at it, i did something my teacher sovereign entity with the book because they are sacred. i dogeared some of the pages because i wanted to go back and reread. >> guest: there is no better conflict to an author than to see a well used book.
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>> host: thank you so much for joining me on "after words." good luck with the book. >> guest: thank you. >> that was "after words," booktv signature program in which authors of the less nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with the material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturdays. 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday, and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to and click on "after words" and the tv series in the upper part of the page. >> charles kupfer is a professor at penn state harrisburg the author of a new book "indomitable will: turning defeat into victory from pearl harbor to midway." what specifically is the thesis of your book? >> i'm trying to remind people
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that defeat was an early a major part of the american war experience. i think we have correctly honored the so-called greatest generation, and i think we know we won the war, and thank heavens, but i think it was six-month of really catastrophic defeat the condition the american people for their work -- their war experience spent what defeats do speak of? what are the big defeats? spent of course pearl harbor was a shock but subsequent to pearl harbor, the japanese were on the move across the pacific. the unitethe united states lostd wake island, the british lost hong kong. we were pushed back and back and back into the philippines down the pan peninsula. and probably the most successful japanese attack, the one that did the most to shatter allied morale or at least to shake up the ground was the loss of singapore by the british. >> in regards to world war ii in the first half, is a book
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focusing on american involvement? are we talking about alex? >> i did talk about american involvement and i give, i'm an american studies professor at the american subject has pride in place, but it was about this time that the united states officialdom began using the phrase allies. and also i think importantly united nations. to refer to the allied cause. so even from the beginning, even after the day after pearl harbor franklin roosevelt and other american leaders were speaking in terms of the collective endeavor, often using allies and even united nations when only american naval forces were involved. >> when did the tide of change for the americans in regards to going from defeat to success in the war? >> i think it can be pinpointed three specifically at midway. i think midway was six-month after pearl harbor it prior to midway was the battle of the coral seek with the sort of a draw, probably an advantage for the americans, but midway about the united states and hence the united nations to seize the initiative.
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and then from then on the battles would be fought with allies determined and how the allies determined. >> was there a general understanding among u.s. forces during the first half of the war that they were losing? >> i think there was, and i think just imported there was a general awareness on the part of the american public that we were losing. i ever been stuck. there's a lot of journalism history in this book by how open the media culture was, by how frank the media coverage was, and by how much are the american public was in response to a lot of bad news. never lost heart, never lost focus, never lost a unified feeling. really never took her eyes off the ball which was ultimate victory speech when people talk about american war propaganda are using the public was aware that it was just bad, propaganda? >> i think the public understood that there was a need for, let's say, communication on message. one of the things i came across, and i think this is worth thinking about, is
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